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Nelly to headline Spring Fling

Published: Monday, March 4, 2013

Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 02:03


Grammy Award-winning hip hop artist Nelly will be this year’s Spring Fling headliner,  Concert Board co-chairs Mark Bernardo and Julia Stein announced on Friday in Cohen Auditorium at Theta Chi’s Tufts’ Best Dance Crew fundraiser.

Yeasayer, an indie rock group from Brooklyn, N.Y., and 5 & A Dime, an up-and-coming DJ and producer who blends electronic dance music (EDM) and Top-40 hits, will open for Nelly. As in past years, the winner of the upcoming Battle of the Bands, a competition between Tufts bands, will serve as the first opener at Spring Fling.

Nelly is a hip-hop artist from St. Louis, Mo., famously known for his chart-topping albums “Nellyville” (2002)  and “Sweatsuit” (2005), along with several hit singles and his clothing line Apple Bottoms.

The announcement was spur of the moment, as Concert Board had originally planned to announce the acts in early April, according to Stein. All three acts were not finalized until last Wednesday, she said.

“[We were] planning on announcing around early April at the earliest,” Stein, a sophomore, said. “The problem was that Nelly, Yeasayer and 5 & A Dime were so excited about Tufts that they posted on their website of tour dates, which doesn’t happen for college tours.”

“I think that despite the whole hurriedness of the entire thing and how it was so rushed, people responded well to it,” Bernardo, a sophomore, said.  

Despite a petition asking for a female headliner that circulated campus earlier this semester, Bernardo said that Concert Board based its artist choices on availability, cost and popularity, not gender. He also noted that Nelly was already signed before the petition came out.

“I think we acted on just the principle of finding good music and if it happened to be a female, that’s great, but we’re not seeking out a female artist just to have a female artist,” Bernardo said.

Stein added that Concert Board’s main goal for Spring Fling is for the students to have fun.

“Spring Fling is a time to forget about politics and just have a great time and I think that our choice will do that,” she said.

Concert Board sent out a survey of genres for the Spring Fling main act in December, which revealed hip-hop to be the most popular genre by a landslide, while rock and EDM were distant second and third choices, according to Stein.

Stein explained that Concert Board initially began looking at artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean and Macklemore, but all of the original choices were already booked or too expensive.

The Spring Fling budget, at $100,000, was two-thirds of last year’s budget, according to Bernardo. 

Concert Board then petitioned Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate for more money and received $45,000 to add to the budget, Stein said. She said that without the extra money, there would have been a poorer lineup.

“It’s a wonderful choice for Tufts, I think, and based on the budget that we have, it’s smaller than last year and it’s a miracle that we even actually got Nelly in the first place and have such a big name recognition,” Bernardo said.

Concert Board’s agent originally proposed booking Nelly, suggesting that an older artist would be less expensive but also a huge hit for the students, according to Bernardo. 

Bernardo and Stein believe that Nelly will please many students because he has produced numerous hit songs over the years that many people know.

“I feel like Nelly is the kind of name that commands respect in the music industry just because of how much fame and how long his career’s been and how successful it is,” Bernardo said. “It’s just a privilege for us to have him here.”

According to Stein, the opening acts are very excited to share the stage with Nelly at Spring Fling.

“When Yeasayer found out that it was Nelly, they freaked out,” she said. “To have such a deep cut of tracks in a repertoire is saying something.” 

Bernardo and Stein said that Concert Board plans to increase the production quality with a light show and possibly fog machines, as well as by providing better food.  Bernardo said concert tickets and logistics are still to be planned, but there will be a Spring Fling kick-off event the week before spring break.

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